The Daily Mail has a piece on the Queen’s history with horses, as build up to the Derby in June – the Queen owns the current favourite, Carlton House. It includes some lovely photos of her as a girl on a pony or two, and this anecdote:
The Archbishop of Canterbury was expecting one of his usual meetings with King George V when he arrived at the Duke and Duchess of York’s house at 145 Piccadilly.
But on being ushered in, he was astonished to find the monarch on all fours, snorting and neighing in imitation of a horse while his granddaughter Princess Elizabeth led him along by his beard.
Even as a small girl, ‘Lillibet’, as she was known, loved to play with her collection of toy horses.
I fished around in my research and found a few stories which I meant to fit into the book but couldn’t quite work in. As princess, the Queen insisted that her official fourteenth birthday photograph featured her favourite pony, a grey, and she also kept her model horses stationed outside her bedroom door at Buckingham Palace every night, right up until she married. When they were younger, she, her sister and her cousin Margaret Rhodes, used to play at imaginary horses. Rhodes later recalled:
“When they were very small, it was mostly playing at being horses … We were circus horses, or riding ponies or anything you like, but it involved a lot of neighing, cantering and galloping.”